The First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI) team went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to celebrate World Food Day 2014 and to talk about the role of the first food, breast milk, and community engagement in global health and to set the stage for upcoming work in the city of Brotherly Love. Philly, is one of the three pilot cities selected for 3FCI’s innovative project, which aims to create more supportive “first food friendly” community environments for mothers and babies and thereby improve infant and maternal health outcomes in cities across America.
The Philly event was hosted by Christiaan Morssink, PhD, Executive Director of the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, who also spoke on the importance of breastfeeding, vaccinations and good food. Dr. Morssink also sits on the 3FCI Academic Advisory Council, which spearheads the research protocols for the project.
The audience was comprised of a diverse group of breastfeeding and maternal-infant health experts, including doulas, food advocates, students and community members. The 3FCI team was given the opportunity to discuss the project’s goals and the needs of the Philadelphia community. During the trip, the 3FCI team also toured neighborhoods of North Philadelphia as part of its exploratory research to target a specific geographic area to pilot the project. In Detroit, 3FCI plans to target the Osborne community and the Racine County community in Racine, Wisconsin.
The First Food Friendly Community Initiative (3FCI) is funded by a $425,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to Metro Solutions, a Detroit-based fiscal intermediary. 3FCI is guided by the premise that the first food—breast milk—with its unparalleled immunological and preventative health properties, is the earliest and most optimal intervention point for improving the likelihood of healthier infants and children. The 2½-year project, which will include pilots in Detroit and Philadelphia, aims to create “first food friendly” communities for mothers and infants by identifying on-the-ground partners and targeting local agencies, establishments, faith-based institutions and residents for multi-pronged coordinated strategies. These strategies stretch beyond traditional health interventions and include economic and workforce development components. By eradicating “deserts” of support and removing common barriers to increased breastfeeding with comprehensive community-led interventions, infants and the families that care for them can have more healthful and empowered lives.
3FCI brings together three nationally recognized infant health and community engagement experts. Kimberly Seals Allers, an renowned editor and journalist, and leading advocate and consultant on breastfeeding is the project director; Kiddada Green, founder of the Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association and co-founder of Black Breastfeeding Week leads curriculum development and community training; and Robert Carmona, a workforce development consultant with decades of experience in workforce development and leads this component of the project.
Please stay tuned for continuous updates on the project as pilots launch, beginning with Detroit in the spring of 2015.